Man circles police department on bike, charges at officer with a large knife


A 47-year-old man is behind bars after Chowchilla Police say he was outside their department with a knife and charged toward an officer early Sunday.

After surrendering, suspect, Paul Clingham was arrested outside of the Chowchilla Police Department.

It all started in the early morning hours when Clingham was seen on surveillance footage circling the department on a bike. Upon looking closer, he was seen with a large, butcher-like knife.

“The dispatcher had seen the subject on a bicycle. She let the officers know that there was somebody in the back by the patrol cars circling the police department,” says Commander Jeff Palmer with the department.

The department news release explains further:

“As one of the officers walked outside of the department, he noticed that there was a bicycle laying in a parking spot where a patrol car is normally parked. The officer, used his training and experience and began to believe that the bicycle could have been placed there as a distraction.”

That’s when the officer began scanning the area, searching for Clingham. He found him standing in a corner holding the knife in his right hand.

“Had he had gone around that corner, there’s a potential he could’ve been a fatal encounter to either the officer or the suspect,” Palmer explains.

The officer ordered Clingham to drop the knife, who started to charge toward him, the department alleges. Commands were given again to drop the knife and to lay on the ground while pointing an department issued gun at Clingham.

After several commands, Clingham finally complied and dropped the knife. That’s when he was taken into custody. 

Clingham was found to be in possession of meth and drug paraphernalia, according to the news release. He was also found to have an active warrant out of Kansas for attempted murder, which he told officers was for stabbing a correctional officer.

He booked into Madera County Jail for the warrant as well as the alleged additional felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, threatening and resisting arrest and several misdemeanor charges which included the possession of meth.

Palmer says, “He’s a known white supremacist gang member.”

There is a tense climate for law enforcement, Palmer says, and he believes it makes them more of a target.

“This incident is an example of the growing dangers, officers across the nation are facing while policing the communities they serve. Our community and officers, face the same issues, and this was an example of it. Thankfully, the officer used his training and experience to safely clear the back of the department and ensure he was not injured,” the news release read.

Palmer says they are looking into putting up a gate around their department. 

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